Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Culture-change needed at Ofsted too!

Whilst the Guardian editorial rightly says it is not part of the "Ofsted culture" to acknowledge the ways schools are getting better, and "thank everyone involved for their efforts", perhaps it is time for a culture-change?(Academy or community school , structures don't matter but support for good leadership does,11/12/14) Constant criticism of teachers and teaching, which has been the norm ever since the first Ofsted reports were published in 1992, does nothing to rejuvenate already overworked staff, or to encourage new entrants into the profession, at a time when "recruitment is becoming a serious challenge". Is it surprising that so many qualified teachers leave before completing five years in the classroom?

          Wilshaw acknowledges that "academy autonomy" can lead to dangerous isolation, but then names and shames local education authorities with too many under-performing schools, when many of the problematic schools are academies or free schools. It seems he takes every opportunity to criticise when a more sensible route of praise and advice is ignored. Teachers would appreciate much more some guidelines on marking expectations and progress monitoring; parents need to be informed by Ofsted that it is not essential for every piece of work to be corrected, and given five line comments on how improvement can be attained; sixty hour weeks for teachers are simply counter-productive!
      After an "unsatisfactory" verdict of a school by Ofsted, a Training day for the staff, with the same inspection team giving advice on how lessons could be improved, must be a way forward. If standards have indeed, "stalled" in secondary schools, Ofsted should surely be calling for smaller class sizes, more classroom assistants, more units for the badly behaved and more hi-tech facilities? Not every school can simply appoint a new "superhead" to come in and immediately expel sixty or so pupils as a method of improvement; some may see such action as strong leadership but others might simply regard it as "passing the buck".

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